By WALTER S. MOSSBERG
Palm's Treo smart phones have been the best high-end cellphones on the
market, with the finest combination of voice, email and Web-browsing
capabilities in a hand-held device.
But many corporate information-technology departments have refused to
buy the phone. Why? Because the Treo is powered by the Palm operating
system and not by software from Microsoft, the only company whose
software is supported by many IT departments.
So Palm this week introduced a Treo model that uses the latest version
of Microsoft's Windows Mobile software (formerly known as Pocket
PC). On the outside, the new Treo 700w looks very much like the
current Palm-based model, the Treo 650, which will remain on sale and
will continue to be developed on a parallel track. On the inside,
though, the new Treo's key software functions -- phone, email, Web,
multimedia -- are all different. [Palm]
I have been testing the Treo 700w, which will be sold by Verizon
Wireless, to see how it stacks up against the Treo 650, the phone I
carry every day.
My verdict: Despite some nice new features, the Windows Mobile
software is still inferior to the Palm software for one-handed use on
the go. Its crucial email and phone functions are also weaker. And
there's a serious bug in its email software that affects individuals,
though not corporate users. So the Treo 700w is neither as easy to use
nor as powerful as the Treo 650. In addition, the screen on the 700w
offers significantly lower resolution than the screen on the 650, and
the new model costs twice as much -- $400 versus $200.